Learning how to play guitar is a wonderful journey, and you’re at a crucial stage: finding a great guitar teacher. How do you know if the guitar teacher you’re looking at will be a good match for you? Take these tips from guitar teacher Melissa K. to find the perfect guitar teacher for you!
Your fingers do strange, elegant dances in the air. Melodies and chord progressions haunt your dreams. Your friends are in an a capella group and will erupt into songs at a moment’s notice, but you’re not a singer.
Whatever your reasons, you’ve made the decision to advance your guitar skills, whether you’re picking it up for the first time or building on what you already know. Congrats! Now that you’re ready to dive in, let’s make it count by finding the teacher who will be the best guide as you’re learning how to play guitar.
When you’re looking at potential guitar teachers, keep these factors in mind:
Opinions differ over whether a guitarist needs to have studied their instrument formally. Many colleges offer complete programs on different guitar styles – everything from playing pop music in studios to improving jazz to classical. Your teacher may have gone to school, but also may have studied one-on-one with dozens of professional players.
If you’re considering a teacher without a college background, look for a list of references and review what they teach. Besides showing you technique, you’ll want a teacher who will explain music theory to give you a deeper understanding of what you’re playing.
Many great guitarists can teach, but they may not be experienced teachers. Conveying information is its own art form, and everyone learns differently. A good education alone won’t do the trick – choose a guitarist who has at least a few years of teaching behind them. If they’re new to teaching and you’re OK with that, make sure they give you a rate competitive with other teachers.
Casual or rigorous? Loaded with theory, or focused on a single technique or song? There are as many different ways to take a guitar lesson as there are teachers and students. Ask yourself what you want to get out of your experience. If you’re just doing this for fun, you may want a more laid-back teacher. If you’d like to learn as much as possible, find someone who will keep you on your toes.
Many guitarists enjoy an active performing or recording schedule, whether they play solo or in groups. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make a great teacher, but it does mean they’re passionate about what they do and it often grants them a well-rounded perspective. If you want to learn about the professional track, get to know a professional player.
Before you get started with a teacher, your schedules have to mesh. Make sure you can both set up a consistent time to meet each week. If you’re both very busy or your teacher’s schedule is constantly changing due to other commitments, it may not be a good match.
You may also have questions during the week pertaining to your lessons. Your teacher’s TakeLessons profile shows you their average response time – if you want to keep your lessons on pace, they should get back to you within a day or two (Editor’s note: for an example of this, check out Melissa’s profile or search for guitar teachers in your area).
What do you want to accomplish? Whether you want to learn a set of songs, be better at a particular genre, or become a master shredder, part of your teacher’s job is to keep you on track and help you improve. Ask your teacher to help you identify and establish goals early on so that you can mark your progress.
Acquiring any new skill takes time, and you’re likely to stumble. That’s OK. A good guitar teacher will want to stay with you on this journey. Find a teacher who has kept the same students for a considerable length of time, for several months or years. And be dedicated, too! A great teacher will match your motivation.
Beyond having impressive credentials and experience, you’ll want to connect with your teacher enough to feel comfortable asking questions and trying new things. Find a guitar teacher who is friendly, open, receptive, and adheres to a level of professionalism. A sense of humor is a plus.
Many lessons are competitively priced, but good, experienced teachers tend to charge more. Consider your budget. Taking lessons from a teacher who doesn’t charge much may be nice for you in the short term, but if you’re interested in learning how to play guitar on a deeper level, investing in a strong teacher will help you build the foundation you need.
Love of music
This is why we take guitar lessons in the first place! Hopefully your teacher will share a passion for music so strong, you can feel it fill the room. Those teachers who love teaching music are also easy to spot, because when you finally play that complicated melody you’ve been working on for weeks, they’ll have a big smile on their face.
Ready to find the guitar teacher of your dreams? Search for a teacher near you today!
Melissa K. is a studio and stage guitarist in Los Angeles, CA and has been teaching guitar and songwriting for over 7 years. In addition to her musical expertise, this Philadelphia native also teaches juggling! Learn more about Melissa here!
Photo by USAG – Humphreys